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What You Should Know About State Marriage Laws

What You Should Know About State Marriage Laws

In addition, same sex marriages could not be recognized no matter where they took place. No same sex union would be afforded any legal recognition. In fact, the state forbids individuals from obtaining any of the rights or responsibilities of marriage if they are in a same sex relationship. However, recently, government employees in same sex relationships, have been granted some of the rights associated with marriage. Trends suggest that government employees are sometimes granted certain rights before those same rights and protections are offered to the general public. 
While private employers often have their own policies regarding discrimination and other issues related to the LGBT community, there is often no legal recourse. In fact, the company is the only entity that has an obligation to uphold its policies. Due to the lack of laws, many companies abstain from enacting such policies. In fact, many companies fear the consequences associated with enacting such policies. However, government employees right,s will eventually extend to the general public.

Arkansas forbids legal recognition of gay marriage through the Defense of Marriage act, in addition to constitutional amendments that explicitly forbid same sex marriage. Arkansas also fails to recognize any same sex marriages legally performed in another state. By denying the legality of these marriages, the state effectively takes away all rights and responsibilities afforded to that marriage. Uniquely, a sub-chapter legally allows employers to offer benefits to domestic partners. Few states make such allowances for domestic partners. In fact, the sub-chapter makes a certain allowance for the term domestic partner in the constitution. However, the implications of the inclusion of that phrase, are yet unknown. 
Many believe that it could be used as a tool to allow legal recognition for domestic partnerships. If this occurs, many same sex couples could attain some of the rights that are associated with marriage. In many cases, domestic partners can jointly own property, make medical decisions and inherit property in the absence of a will. In addition, domestic partnerships are usually contractual relationships that require no legal action to end. While Arkansas law denied same sex couples the ability to divorce, divorce would not be necessary for domestic partnerships. In fact, domestic partnerships are ended when either individual decides to to end them. Domestic partnerships have no legal similarities to marriages, except that the individuals are afforded some legal rights regarding their relationship.

South Carolina

South Carolina offers no legal recognition to same sex marriage, civil unions or domestic partnerships. However, a constitutional amendment forbids the state from attempting to legally prevent contracts for same sex partners. In addition, a bill was introduced that would legally allow civil unions for same sex couples. While the term “marriage” is left out of the language of the bill, same sex couples would still be afforded many of the rights and responsibilities associated with marriage. There has been no action on the bill and it may have to reintroduced. 
However, the original introduction of the bill shows that South Carolina is giving serious consideration to equal rights for the LGBT community. By legally recognizing civil unions, the state would allow LGBT couples access to rights that they are currently denied. Those rights include the right to own property jointly and to inherit that property. In essence, a same sex couple would have access to rights that allow them to mutually share in property and assets, which also affords them the right to inherit the other half of those assets.


Currently, Washington state does not legally recognize any same sex marriages. However, Washington does recognize domestic partnerships. Same sex couples can exercises many of the same rights as married couples. The only right that is not afforded to same sex couples, is the right to call their union marriage. They can in fact, exercise all other rights that pertain to the marriage of a man and a woman. 
Domestic partners in Washington state, have the right to own property jointly, inherit property in the absence of a will and to make medical decisions for their partner. Also, domestic violence laws apply to domestic partners, even though they do not apply in many other states. In addition, domestic partners can exercise their right not to testify against their partner in a court of law. In many cases, the right to avoid testifying, is not granted to same sex couples. However, Washington State offers all marriage rights and responsibilities to domestic partnerships.